WeMindTheGap, has officially opened a new Flintshire Hub at the Jade Jones Pavilion to support the expansion of its support programmes in the area.

Enabled by funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and in partnership with Flintshire County Council and Aura Leisure, the opening of the Flintshire Hub will provide a space for local young people to take part in the charity’s WeGrow and WeDiscover programmes.

We Grow is a 12-month face to face programme for young people aged 18-25 to develop employability and confidence building skills by offering six months of meaningful work experience (30 hours per week at minimum wage), with employer partners, alongside life coaching and the opportunity to gain qualifications and new skills followed by six months of dedicated support.

WeDiscover is a virtual programme, for young people aged 16 to 25 years, providing them with the opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world beyond their front door through a combination of interactive group sessions, dedicated one to one mentoring support and the chance to meet inspirational guest speakers.

The Flintshire Hub was officially launched on 9th November with a community event attended by Flintshire County Council Vice Chairman, Cllr Dennis Hutchinson. It brought together the young people currently enrolled on the WeGrow programme, known as Gappies, community makers and the Flintshire community team to provide a tour of the new base, share more about the programme and demonstrate some of the activities and team building skills that the young people have been developing so far.

Local young people were on hand to talk about their experiences so far and highlighted the work experience placements they are soon to be embarking on with employer partners including Aura Leisure, Theatre Clwyd, housing association ClwydAlyn, Coleg Cambria, Hawarden Farm Shop and a local donkey sanctuary.

One Gappie, Brittaney, 23, speaking at the launch, said: “When I found out about this opportunity to take part in WeGrow with WeMindTheGap I knew it was just what I needed to help me achieve my goal of becoming an electrician. Confidence is something that I’ve really struggled with, and I haven’t known what to do to help me come out of my shell more until getting involved in this programme and I’ve also found it really difficult to get work experience.

“We’ve done lots of different team building activities together so far that have really helped me with this, and I’m really excited to be starting my work placement soon with ClwydAlyn which will give me the crucial work experience that I need. The life coach support that we get every week is so valuable in encouraging us to think about where we want to be, and the programme has made a big difference to me already.”

Cllr Dennis Hutchinson, said: “I was delighted to be invited to join the launch of WeMindTheGap’s Flintshire Hub. This facility will make a real difference in improving access to opportunities for local young people and helping to tackle some of the challenges facing many of our young people such as social exclusion, loneliness and lack of confidence. It was really inspiring to hear the experiences of young people working with WeMindTheGap and their aspirations for the future and really highlighted the importance of widening access to these opportunities.”

Ali Wheeler, CEO of WeMindTheGap, added: “The opening of out Flintshire base is a real milestone for WeMindTheGap as we continue to expand our support programmes across Flintshire. It has been a real partnership effort with support from Aura Leisure, Alternate Provision, Flintshire County Council and the hard work of many of our Gappies who have got involved every step of the way, including helping us to paint the facility to create a warm and welcoming space for young people in Flintshire. It’s wonderful to see young people making such good use of the Hub already.”

Leisure Operations Manager at Aura Leisure, Neil Rimell, added: “It’s great to see this space at Jade Jones Pavilion being put to such a valuable use on a daily basis. This has always been a great community resource for youth services but now somewhere WeMindTheGap can call home too.

We have been working with WeMindTheGap for a number of years now and to be able to play a small part in helping them create a home to carry on their amazing work is something we are really pleased with here at Aura”

All young people who work with WeMindTheGap also have the opportunity for further development and support through WeBelong, the charity’s alumni programme. Young people who have graduated from its programmes over the last nine years still keep in touch with WeMindTheGap and with each other and highlight this as a valuable part of its support.

To find out more about WeMindTheGap and its support programmes visit www.wemindthegap.org.uk.

WeMindTheGap is part funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in partnership with Flintshire County Council and Wrexham County Borough Council.

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